Hugo Kensdale, a 37-year old singer-songwriter from Manchester has gone a very different way in his musical career: After playing the trumpet and then singing in a band from the age of 15 till 20 and learning some basic guitar chords from his sister he paused making music for 10 years and then started again with the age of 30. So in a way he is still really fresh and enthusiastic in the music business but of course from a very different angle than his colleagues in their mid-twenties. Anyway, how much this special history affects his quality as a performer and songwriter is hard to tell and is not relevant either. Hugo Kensdale has surely got a huge talent in both, song writing and performing. His most evident qualities lie in his singing. His vocals have an intriguing uniqueness and power that the listener, whether they are live or recorded, is drawn to. In the single Mermaids his talent to write "big songs" becomes evident too. "Mermaids" consists of wide-ranging, strong and captivating melodies carried by a solid but not too heavy band sound. It's emotional yet not cheesy. Lyrically, it's quite dark, self-reflective and very poetic.
October Chill is one of those songs that don't leave you once you've heard them for the first time. It's written in a waltzing ¾ rhythm and has a beautiful instrumentation with a beautiful piano line and a almost dramatic brass supported bridge. Lyrically it's really touching, almost heartbreaking: "One step at a time/ Follow the trusted line/ Where once there held a hand/ The cold of steel now stands…" Hugo Kensdale has been inspired to this song by watching an elderly lady trying to cross the street with her zimmerframe. Struck by her fragility and braveness at the same time the overall theme of the song is "where there's a will there's a way". So although being a rather serious and a bit of a heavy song it also transports this message of hope. Again, Hugo's vocals have a great expressiveness and many different shades and can easily capture a complex and ambivalent moment very well. Hugo's music is also certainly characterized by a great authenticity. He has long grown out of a self-interested vanity - in case there ever was one, that is. We can definitely look forward to a fantastic debut album if the songs on it only get anywhere near the quality of this single.
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